Interview: Skye Battles

Q: How long have you been doing photography?

Well, I think I started to consider myself a photographer when I branched out and asked people who weren’t my friends to model for me. I was probably 12 years old at that time. It’s always really funny to look back at the way I edited my work then. Some of my work from that time is in my current portfolio.

Q: When did you start taking pictures?

One of my moms had always done photography as a hobby so cameras and photography books were just always around me. I think I was about eight years old when I started to take pictures here and there but it became more than a hobby for me by the time I was 12.

Q: What/ who inspires you?

Oh god, so many different things. I guess I’ll start with certain inspirations in my different series. I have one series called Dreams From The Attic that is inspired by my dreams. Basically, each album in the series represents a different dream that resonated with me. I have this other album that is named after a chapter in the Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury so sometimes I find inspiration through literature. The series is called And The Moon Be Still As Bright partially because I adore his writing and also because of its release date, 1950. In the series I wanted to focus on women’s fashion of the 1940s and 50s. I have another series, Tomboy, which focuses on the greaser fashion trend of that time. I used only female models for that series as well. My shoots definitely used to be more fashion oriented but I don’t usually have models bring a bunch of clothes anymore considering that I’ve recently been trying to do “people in their natural environment” kind of stuff or intricate themes that aren’t necessarily focused on fashion. I still love fashion and design though. It’s going to have an influence over my art whether I notice it or not.

A series that definitely has a noticeable inspiration is Angel Darling, which focuses on Asian pop culture. Two albums in there, Wind it Up and Powder Blue, were really fun because I got to experiment with set decoration considering I shot them in my room. It was really nice to have so much control.

I am SO inspired by the architecture of my city, Los Angeles, and the East Coast. I’ve lived in Los Angeles my whole life but my biological mom (I have two lesbian moms) is from the East Coast so I am very familiar with it. My house looks like it belongs on the East Coast. The type of architecture I like on the East Coast is very different to the kind I like here in LA. I like the areas of LA that are a little bit “run down.” I absolutely adore pale or interesting colored houses and apartments. I find myself drawn to a lot of apartments from the 50s-80s. I love being able to capture the beautiful people and their lifestyle here. As far as the East Coast, I’ve noticed that I’m inspired by irony. I love the elegant houses there that are just completely different on the inside. I have a lot of photos that encompass that in my Out & About album in my Little Black Book series.

Q: Who do you look up to?

There are so many different artists I look up to. Someone I’m really interested currently is Gregory Crewdson. He’s an American photographer who is usually drawn to small-town America settings. I love that his work is very simplistic yet cinematic. His work just gives me chills and I definitely aspire to be like him. Speaking of cinema, I love Wes Anderson. The color contrast and angles in his films are absolutely phenomenal. Another artist I adore is Philipp Igumnov aka Woodcum. I’ve loved him throughout my entire photography career. He does a lot of collage pieces that are either unrealistic or have a 40s-50s vibe or both. I’ve written him multiple letters and have a lot of his artwork in my room. Another artist’s work that is in my room is Yoshitomo Nara. I’ve become really fascinated with his work over the past year. Again, I love the simplicity of his work and the pale colors that he uses. Whenever I go to a museum I bring my notebook and write down all the artists I like. When I go home I research them and make a folder of their work on my computer so I’m definitely forgetting a few. Lastly and most importantly, I find a lot of inspiration through my photography teacher Vince Campi. He’s the reason I am proud of my work and I am SO grateful that I get to sit next to him everyday for two hours. Even though our styles of photography are different, I love his approach and notes. He’s been exposed to so many different aspects of the photography world so I learn so much from every conversation I have with him. My work gets 10x better every time he shows me new editing software. He’s a teacher I will always remember. I feel so lucky to have him in my life.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

Hm, okay I have a few tips. First, be really organized. Photography is probably the only thing I’m organized in considering my dyslexia. I find that sketching out my shoots makes things a lot easier. I have a notebook/planner, which is also really helpful to keep track of shoots. I’ve been lucky and taken photos of very outgoing people but it’s really important to make your subject feel comfortable. That’s something I’m always working on. Sometimes you forget that people get nervous in photo situations so you should always be aware of that and compliment the subject. But then again, don’t be afraid to tell them that their doing something wrong because it’d suck to get home and feel like you didn’t get what you wanted. Be ballsy, a lot of photographers risk their lives to get that perfect shot. I’m not saying go to that extreme, but don’t be afraid to break the rules. I’ve been asked a handful of times to leave a location but you know, I still get the shot and leave in time without getting in trouble. Get a lot of advice from different artists and pick and choose what you want to apply to your craft. Sometimes I even have friends send me their work to critique. 3 things I’ve been working on recently is getting the lighting perfect on the spot, making sure the setting isn’t distracting and shooting a lot of different angles. I only shoot in manual, which I recommend because it gives you the most control, so I can perfect the lighting and not have to do much in an editing software. It’s hard to constantly be aware of everything going on in your shot and the camera itself. It’s a lot of things coming at you, especially in manual mode but I recommend looking at your shot through the camera first, then removing distracting things from the background and then adjusting the camera. Lastly, a tip that I actually just got recently from my photography teacher is to shoot a variety of angles. This gives you a lot more artistic control that maybe you didn’t even know you had.

Q: How do you document your photography? (Site)?

It’s a long name and I’m probably going to change it at some point but its:

I originally wanted it to be A Journal From The Blue December, but that was two characters too long. Now, I actually like my current domain name better. I chose it for a few reasons. One, because I love the color blue. A lot of my photos have a blue tint. Secondly, I wanted it to sound like a small town newspaper headline. I was definitely thinking of Gregory Crewdson when I made the name.

Q: What’s the next step for you?

I’m currently getting Adobe Certified, I’ll be taking the test in a few months (crossing my fingers haha). My work is also getting published which I’m SUPER excited about! I cant really disclose a lot of details because its top secret but its going to be published in something that’s never been done before. Ah, I’m so excited! I’ll definitely be posting about it once it’s available to the public! Aside from that I’m applying to liberal arts colleges. Mainly places with interdisciplinary learning methods. I’m not really applying to arts schools because my work is already so influenced by my other interests. I want to be able to have access to all of my passions in order to develop my craft in a meaningful way. I’m definitely dedicated to my work and that’s why I plan to get an MFA after my first 4 years of college. I just want to be a well-rounded artist.

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